CAD is an acronym for Computer Aided Design. This design tool can be used for creating drawings and models of 2D and 3D objects in a computer. First introduced in early 1960s, CAD is now used for designing almost all types of objects. CAD facilitates the design process of a new object. It enables users to create perfect diagrams of any object to ensure flawless bulk production. Various types of CAD software are available in the market. Here is a list of current software available.
- 2D CAD: 2D CAD is used for creating flat drawings of objects and structures. Objects created in 2D CAD feature lines, curves, ovals and circles. Some of the most popular 2D CAD programs are AutoCAD and CADkey.
- 2.5D CAD: 2.5D CAD allows users to create prism shape models using 2.5D CAD programs. Just like 2D CAD, the objects are created using geometric shapes.
- 3D CAD: 3D CAD solutions feature a variety of tools that help create realistic models and objects in 3D. Some of the 3D CAD programs are Autodesk Inventor and CoCreate Solid Designer.
- 3D Wireframe: 3D Wireframe CAD software provides users freedom to create a skeletal-like inner structure of an object. The surface can be added later.
- Solid Modeling: Solid Modeling is particularly designed to calculate the dimension of the item being created. Many sub-types of solid modeling programs exist in the market.
How CAD and CAM Software Helps
CNC machines are used for cutting metal pieces. A good CAD-CAM software helps CNC machine operators do their job effortlessly. CAM is a short form of Computer-Aided Manufacturing. These days CAD and CAM software have become integrated with one another and are often considered to be a single program, instead of two separate programs.
The term CAD-CAM means that the designer can control both the designing process and manufacturing process simultaneously. For instance, once a design is created in CAD, the CNC machine can control the tools accordingly to produce flawless metal objects.
Below are some of the benefits of installing a CAD-CAM CNC software program in your CNC machine:
- Helps you accept more projects: When you have CAD-CAM software, you can easily open the CAD designs sent by clients and set-up the manufacturing process. You also can perform simulations to calculate the time required to complete a project. The production department will be able to perform their duties in a hassle-free manner, and they will deliver the finished products faster. Since the software reduces your overall manufacturing time, you can complete more projects than possible prior to installation.
- No guesswork: The software offers the automation required for programming efficiency. The machining wizards help CNC machinery operators in every step to ensure error-free production. The wizards help in setting selecting tool-path styles, cutting depths, deciding cutter lead-ins and lead-outs, selecting tools, choosing compensation settings, and much more. Even a novice programmer can operate a CNC machine if the right CNC software is installed.
- Perform 3-Axis CNC operations: CAD-CAM software allows you to create a highly challenging 3-axis machine tool-path quickly. Without the help of CAD-CAM software, it becomes difficult to program complex parts since, more often than not, more than one tool-path is required for smooth metal cutting.
- Eliminates mistakes and wastes: Nobody wants to slice a piece of metal only to find that the measurement or design is imperfect. A small mistake in production not only results in loss, but also increases wastage and financial losses. However, when you install CAD-CAM software, it minimizes the chances of mistakes. You can visualize the machining process with the help of the software. Therefore, mistakes can be detected early and rectified before the metal cutting process begins.
- Cost effective: Buying CAD-CAM software is a one-time investment, but the tasks it can perform are numerous and long lasting. Thus, the ROI is high. Once you install CAD-CAM software in your CNC cutting machine, you can accept complex projects and satisfy your clients by providing brilliantly finished products.
There are many additional benefits, and this article provides an overview of only the significant ones to achieve the highest quality results. Once you install CAD-CAM software in your CNC tool-kit, you will realize its numerous advantages.
Paresh Thakor is a CNC specialist at Ajan Electronics. Ajan Electronics specializes in no break power supply systems, electric discharge machines, milling machines, plasma cutting machines and lathes. Paresh is sharing his knowledge and expertise on CAD-CAM software and its application in CNC machines with MMI.